China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ Plan Marks The Next Phase Of Globalization

Zheng Bijian is chairman of the China Institute for Innovation and Development Strategy and a member of the Berggruen Institute?s 21st Century Council. This article is adapted from remarks he presented at the Belt and Road summit recently held in Beijing.

BEIJING ? A strong anti-globalization wave in the form of trade protectionism and populism has swept parts of the developed world, calling the future of economic globalization into question. In this context, the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing came at a most critical and opportune time. It inaugurates the next phase of globalization that promises a new foundation for shared global growth.

There are three key points to grasp in understanding the historical significance of this Chinese initiative.

First, the problems of economic globalization do not portend the end of globalization or throw it into reverse gear. Rather, these problems signal that the current round of economic globalization, after four decades of development, is ready for a major historical turning point.

Over the 40 years since the present round of economic globalization started in 1970s, we have enjoyed both great economic achievements and, at the same time, witnessed a lot of problems piling up. That is the ?dual nature? of economic globalization. The door was thrown wide open for financial speculation that damages the real economy. The hollowing out of domestic manufacturing industries has exacerbated unemployment in the developed world. This has led to increased social polarization and caused a sharp rise of populism. All these problems have now come to a boil in some developed countries, further affecting the rest of the world.

There are two alternatives before us in facing these challenges. One is to resort to trade protectionism and the other is to guide globalization into a new phase in the spirit of a ?community of common destiny for all mankind? through a more balanced distribution of existing and innovative forces of wealth production. That can be done by establishing a new balance between financial capital and the real economy, by the optimization of global governance and the systemic reform of world economic and political order.

Protectionism will only lead the world backwards to where it was before economic globalization started and therefore is clearly not a desirable option. Embracing the challenges of globalization and fixing them is the right choice because it will enhance the prospect of shared prosperity instead of falling back into a fragmented world. 

Embracing the challenges of globalization and fixing them will enhance the prospect of shared prosperity instead of falling back into a fragmented world.

Second, the shift of world economic gravity to the emerging nations made possible through the last few decades of economic development has laid the historical foundation for the vision of the Belt and Road Initiative to take hold. Infrastructure and other investments will help the developing world to further thrive.

Given the advances in the developing world, it is not surprising that in the nearly four years since the Belt and Road Initiative was first proposed, it has received a positive response and support from more than 100 countries and international organizations. While economic globalization has brought problems in the developed economies to a head on the one hand, it has also paved the way for developing economies to rise as a whole on the other.

According to the latest projections of the IMF, the world economy is expected to grow at 3.6 percent from 2017 to 2018, higher than the 3.2 percent in the past two years, which is obviously good news. A closer look at the data shows that developing economies are expected to grow faster at 4.6 percent, more than double that of the developed economies at 2 percent. And if we put it in historical perspective, it is even more revealing. In terms of purchasing power parity, the size of developed economies as a whole versus that of the developing economies as a whole was at a ratio of 64:36 in 1980 and 50:50 in 2007. In 2018, this ratio is expected to reverse to 41:59, tipping the scales toward the developing world.

If this trend can be sustained, it means that the global economy as a whole, driven by the developing world, will continue to gather new momentum for growth in the second, third and fourth decades of this century. The more rapid growth in the developing economies will in turn stimulate renewed growth in the developed world by becoming an even larger market for its goods and services. The new phase of globalization will thus be a reverse from the past in which the developed world was the growth engine.

The new phase of globalization will be a reverse of the past in which the developed world was the growth engine.

Seen in this light, the Belt and Road Initiative is really a response to the historical demand to shift economic globalization to a new level by leveraging the benefits of the first phase of globalization to generate new momentums over the decades ahead. 

Third, the Belt and Road Initiative will go down in history as the turning point from marine-based globalization to comprehensive globalization, integrating the inland and marine economies.

Each previous round of economic globalization was marine?based, spreading from the Atlantic to the Pacific. This time it is different. The vast inland economies once left behind will now become part of economic globalization. By connecting container cargo transportation, expressways, high speed trains, air transportation, the internet, modern online financial products and other instruments old and new, the Belt and Road plan will fully integrate marine and inland economies. Connecting these two spheres will induce the overall economic rise of the eastern, central and western regions of China. It will spur economic cooperation and development across the Eurasian continent, further reaching Africa. Even the Americas will be touched. This is the most prominent new feature of the new phase of economic globalization.

When the Belt and Road Initiative was first proposed, it was met with skepticism, regarded as China?s way to transfer its excess production capacity abroad or as China?s Marshall Plan to bring others into its sphere of influence. Some claimed it was merely a new form of neocolonialism or a contrivance aimed against the Western countries. Such attitudes stem from the narrow mindset of a zero-sum game that fails to understand that the Belt and Road Initiative is, in essence, about cooperation. It is about building upon converging interests and fostering communities of interests ? and ultimately, a global community of common destiny. In short, it is a strategic vision of ?cooperative development? consonant with the imperative that economic globalization move into a new stage.

Needless to say, China is fully aware that the Belt and Road Initiative, as a collaborative effort by many countries, is not an easy task that can be accomplished overnight. We need to make long-term commitments. To make it work for all, the countries involved must work together and be prepared to work together for the long term.

In sum, international cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative will become a strong driver and important symbol of the new phase of economic globalization. It promises to transform the world over coming decades no less than the first phase transformed the world over previous decades.

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Trump’s Weekend Getaways Threaten To Doom Historic Airport

ERWINNA, Pa. ? Steady rain drenches the grass airstrip. A gleaming 1928 biplane called the Bird of Paradise will stay in its hangar for now, behind the long-winged gliders and their towplanes that, in nicer weather, carry sightseers and thrill-seekers, and sustain tiny Van Sant Airport in rural Bucks County.

Bar Eisenhauer, an antique airplane buff who runs the two-runway airport with his wife, Dannie, said they can deal with bad weather, even though their livelihood depends on a six-month season of taking tourists for rides in old airplanes. Rain eventually stops, he said, and they can often squeeze in a few customers before dark.

But the Eisenhauers now face a problem far worse than no-fly weather ? something that threatens to put them out of business: President Donald Trump?s weekend trips to his golf club across the Delaware River in Bedminster, New Jersey.

?We never saw this coming,? Eisenhauer said the other day on the high ridge where the airport?s cozy office sits, stuffed with flying memorabilia and old black-and-white photos of airplanes and pilots. ?Of all the things ? this is something that could be really, really bad.?

Trump, who campaigned on cutting business regulations and often touts his executive orders that do just that, has nevertheless created a red-tape death tangle for mom and pop airports in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Florida with his weekend travels to various Trump resorts.

Whenever the president leaves the White House, the Federal Aviation Administration imposes ?temporary flight restrictions? that tightly limit nearby air traffic. General-aviation airports ? those serving private planes ? are closed to takeoffs and landings within 10 miles of the president?s location. Those outside that 10-mile ring, but within 30 miles, like Van Sant, can allow aircraft to arrive and depart if they?re equipped with two-way radios and a transponder that constantly broadcasts location and identity. Commercial air traffic at regional airports isn?t affected.

Two general-aviation airports near Trump?s golf club had to close this month when he visited Bedminster. At least 10 others were able to operate with restrictions, which include this warning: ?Aircraft may not loiter.?

Loitering covers pretty much everything the Eisenhauers do. The old propeller planes ? lovingly restored with glossy paint and lustrous wood ? take off from Van Sant?s grass runway for a leisurely loop along the Delaware River. Gliders soar on updrafts created by the area?s steeply carved terrain.

Van Sant was built in the 1940s for crop-dusting and flight instruction. Now, it?s owned by the county. The Eisenhauers run flight operations, and depend on flying lessons and weekend tourists to earn a living. 

Other small airports covered by the Bedminster-area FAA restriction cater to hot air balloons and skydivers. But most also have restaurants, robust fuel sales and paved runways that can be used for takeoffs and landings of private planes ? even when the temporary flight restriction is in effect.

Van Sant is so small that it?s seldom used by travelers. Yes, there?s food ? a guy on the porch with a barbecue grill. But only three of the Eisenhauers? 15 airplanes have the kind of electronic equipment that would allow them to take off and land during temporary restrictions.

?We?re pretty much grounded,? Eisenhauer said.

The FAA says it has no ability to adjust temporary flight restrictions. ?These things are set up at the request of the Secret Service,? a spokesman said.

The Secret Service tries to balance ?security and access,? a spokesman for that agency said, but ?the primary responsibility of the Secret Service is to provide a safe environment for the president.? 

A White House spokeswoman didn?t respond to a request for comment.

Trump spent most weekends during his first months in office at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, where similar FAA orders restricted air travel. A nearby general-aviation airport lost much of its business to competing airports when Trump was at Mar-a-Lago, according to the Sun-Sentinel, a South Florida newspaper.

With summer approaching, the president is adjusting his weekend routine to favor Trump National Golf Club, about an hour?s drive from New York. ?The reason I am staying in Bedminster, N. J., a beautiful community, is that staying in NYC is much more expensive and disruptive,? Trump tweeted during a visit to his resort this month.

Trump?s railing against business regulations hasn?t been lost on the Eisenhauers. Just last month, he issued a statement deploring what he called ?excessive and unreasonable regulations? and touting his executive orders to undo ?overreaching rules? so entrepreneurs can ?spend more time creating jobs and less time navigating the federal bureaucracy.?

Dannie Eisenhauer said she loves what Trump has been doing.

?He?s done a lot of great things, but in this little situation, it?s killing us,? she said. ?I?m a Trump supporter. I think if he knew what was happening to us, he?d do something.?

The Eisenhauers learned on May 2 that Van Sant would be subject to a temporary flight restriction two days later. The order began that Thursday night and lasted until Sunday night. That took the heart out of a week?s business, something the Eisenhauers said has them scrambling for ideas on how to survive.

?Movie nights, balloon rides ? we?re even thinking about kite-flying,? Bar said.

?We freaked out at first,? Dannie said. ?But I?m trying to stay really positive that something good will happen.?

?This isn?t just one weekend,? she said. ?This could go on for four years ? or more. It?s a situation, that?s for sure.?  

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